The Most Honourable Andrew Holness ON, PC, MP
Prime Minister of Jamaica
Sitting of the House of Representatives
June 13, 2023
Madam Speaker, I’m inclined to consider very carefully the position raised by the member from St. Andrew South-Eastern, as I’m very sympathetic to the positions and discussions raised by the member from St. Mary Western and the member from North-Eastern St. Andrew.
Madam Speaker, we are a country of laws and the rule of law is supreme. The Parliament is the instrument through which we make laws. Madam Speaker, the commissions get their power through the laws this Parliament makes and the Parliament gives an opportunity for Members who are aggrieved or Members who want to make a personal statement to express their perspectives within this House and have the protection of the Parliament in making their statements and it has been utilized.
Madam Speaker, the concerns raised are valid concerns but we must always remember that we are the lawmakers and we have the power given to us by the electorate to change the laws to make the laws more effective, to make them stronger in the public interest, indeed, to make them fairer and just and more effective.
So yes, Madam Speaker, yes, colleagues, we have to use the parliamentary platform to express our dissatisfaction, to defend our good name and character, but more importantly, after all the discussions, we must move swiftly to ensure that we have strong and appropriate legislation to ensure that we deliver justice and integrity for the people of Jamaica. That is our power and that is what the people elected us to do.
So, Madam Speaker, in my own case I haven’t said anything in dealing with the issues that have happened from the Integrity Commission because as Prime Minister, my job is to make sure that all the commissions of this Parliament work effectively. And if it is that the laws that exist do not create the framework in which they work effectively then we have to get everyone in this House to create the laws to make sure that those commissions which report to us in Parliament, that we have oversight of in Parliament, that they work effectively.
Madam Speaker, I would say to every Member that we should not engage in a political “cass cass” because that is how it is emerging between the Parliament and a body that reports to the Parliament. We shouldn’t do that. Madam Speaker, we should avoid that at all costs. It is done on both sides and Madam Speaker, I’m saying that going forward we should avoid that.
Madam Speaker, the two committees that exist, the review committee that is the Joint Select Committee to review the legislation and the Oversight Committee should increase the pace of their activities. They should meet more frequently. They should review the law with greater depth to make sure that we have a law that is workable in Jamaica and if there are issues, Madam Speaker, the Oversight Committee should convene and have those issues resolved. It is not good for our country Madam Speaker, for there to be what has emerged in the public space. It’s not good and if anyone thinks that they are winning, they’re leading to the destruction of institutions and as Prime Minister, I cannot support the destruction of institutions.
So, Madam Speaker, I would wish for the discourse to end at my presentation and I would also wish for the Oversight Committee and the Joint Select Committee to increase the pace of their work to make whatever changes that they see necessary to improve the operations of the Integrity Commission.